Community-based rehabilitation of degraded woodland in the Amhara Region, Ethiopia
In the Amhara region of Ethiopia, the government has promoted a range of forestry initiatives aimed at rehabilitation of degraded land and provision of forest products. This research examined household attitudes and technical and institutional aspects of the programmes to determine how they could more effectively improve rural livelihoods and increase environmental sustainability. Households surveyed in nine villages (Kebeles) practiced mixed subsistence farming; asset endowments were variable among households, despite the government’s assumption that all households are similarly motivated to participate in forestry interventions. The majority (82%) of households plant trees on their land; the level of private tree planting is positively correlated with several wealth indicators (e.g., livestock ownership, surplus labour) and frequency of contact with an extension agent. Household tree planting activities are also influenced by Kebele-level attributes, for example, access to forest nurseries and the type of forestry intervention present in the Kebele. Household proximity to the woodland and agro-ecological potential has no effect on tree planting activities; open grazing constrains tree growing in the region. All three types of rehabilitation intervention examined (i.e., community woodlots, hillside closures, land allocation) were implemented on degraded communal land; the opportunity costs of the interventions, in terms of loss of access, have been felt more deeply by households located near intervention sites than those at a distance. Interventions managed by user groups or directly by participants are viewed more positively than those led by local government authorities (the Kebele Administrations, KA). Lack of community involvement in design and decision-making, and an underuse of products and revenue generated from community woodlots are common features in KA-led interventions.